Similar in plot to her past works (Circle of Grace and The Blue Bottle Club, not reviewed), although fans aren’t likely to...



Four friends under varying degrees of desperate circumstances meet at their 25-year college reunion..

As payback for a practical joke (the “Burma-Shave incident”), freshman Delta Fox mischievously signs up three friends to participate in the fall talent show as the Delta Belles All-Girl Folk Band. It’s 1965 and the group sings—in long blonde wigs, à la Mary Travers—“Blowin’ in the Wind,” with “If I Had a Hammer” as an encore. The group is a hit, and continues to play shows until graduation, and the girls—affable Delta Fox, mysterious Rae Dawn DuChamp and North Carolina twins Lauren and Lacy Cantrell—deepen their friendships. Their lives are somewhat messy: Rae Dawn reveals her trailer-park beginnings, while Lauren, jealous of her sister’s happiness, seduces her sibling’s boyfriend on a secluded bank in the park. Despite their closeness, the Delta Belles lose touch after graduation until their 25th reunion, when Delta’s little sister orchestrates a gathering of the quartet. She’s worried about her sister: Delta’s husband, pastor Rankin Ballou, was recently murdered by a wife-battering ex-member of his congregation in front of his beloved wife of 23 years. The Delta Belles rally to the rescue and the plot thickens. Will Rae Dawn reunite with her lover, Noel? Will Delta regain her faith in God? And will the twins finally reconcile and regain their closeness? Stokes’s Christian readership may be dismayed by Lauren’s premarital sex and resulting pregnancy, and Rae Dawn’s lesbianism (though the topic is handled with empathy and skill).

Similar in plot to her past works (Circle of Grace and The Blue Bottle Club, not reviewed), although fans aren’t likely to complain.

Pub Date: June 13, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-51014-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2006

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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